Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Trump is slowly becoming an Insider and he hasn’t even been inaugurated yet

President-Elect Trump’s campaign promise to ‘drain the swamp’ looks as if it may be harder to do than to say. Part of Trump’s appeal was that he was an outsider which was evident in the way he spoke, carried himself, and treated others (inside and outside of his party). Unpresident like, he threatened to sue newspapers, called Hillary ‘crooked Hillary,’ called illegal (yes, illegal) Mexicans rapists, and made false claims of endorsements.

Donald Trump

 Vice President-elect Mike Pence established a lobbying rule which precluded lobbyists from being part of Trump’s transition team. The rule required transition members to sign an agreement certifying they are not a registered lobbyist. 

Trump will institute a five-year ban on officials taking lobbying jobs after departing the administration but actually keeping lobbyists out of government is another altogether. Trump himself alluded to the difficulty of finding qualified non-lobbyists but may have to cave on this campaign promise just because of the fact that lobbyists have expertise that is attractive to any incoming administration.

The Obama administration found out how difficult it was to stand by a lobbying ban 100 percent. As Politico's Ken Vogel and Mike Allen wrote back in 2009: 

“President Obama promised during his campaign that lobbyists ‘won't find a job in my White House.'”

“So far, though, at least a dozen former lobbyists have found top jobs in Trump’s administration, according to an analysis done by Republican sources and corroborated by Politico.”

Trump’s promise to not be “controlled by the donors, special interests and lobbyists who have corrupted our politics and politicians” doesn’t seem to be working the way he planned.
Eric Lipton of the New York Times spoke to Trent Lott and he says, “Trump has pledged to change things in Washington—about draining the swamp . . . He is going to need some people to help guide him through the swamp—how do you get in and how you get out? We are prepared to help do that.”

The Wall Street Journal reported in its November 11th issue that “at least a half dozen major Washington lobbyists and three top fundraisers for Mr. Trump’s campaign have been tasked with heading key portions of Mr. Trump’s transition team. . . . In many cases, the lobbyists are selecting administration officials for departments that will affect the interests of firms they represent.”

Some of what maybe Trump’s flip-flop on his campaign promises are:

Former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. partner Steven Mnuchin has been recommended by Donald Trump’s transition team to serve as Treasury secretary. Mnuchin rose through the elite institutions the president-elect spent his campaign vilifying: became a Goldman Sachs partner and worked with George Soros. Trump is also possible considering for Treasury Secretary as is JPMorgan Chase Chief Executive Jamie Dimon.

On Trump’s short-list of cabinet appointments to head the Labor Department, Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin is at the top. This would represent an unmistakable insult and threat to the labor movement, and would also go miles to assuage big business and conservative ideological fears about Trump. 

Trump Celebrates Victory

The Wall Street Journal went on to list some of the lobbyists and the duties they [lobbyists] have been assigned. Leading the transition’s “transportation and infrastructure” team is Martin Whitmer. Whitmer represents the Association of American Railroads and the National Asphalt Pavement Association. Then there is Michael Catanzaro, he is a veteran lobbyist for oil and gas firms who is overseeing “energy independence.” The lobbying firm MWR Strategies president Mike McKenna will be overseeing appointments to the Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. 

Trump has called climate change, perhaps one of the most significant threats facing humanity, a “hoax” several times during his campaign. He vowed to renege on U.S. commitments to the Paris Climate Agreement, undo Obama’s Clean Power Plan, and dismantle the EPA. Decisions made so far in this transitional period do not indicate anything different. To lead the transition of the Environmental Protection Agency, President-elect Donald Trump settled on notorious climate change denier Myron Ebell.

Finally, as of late the transitional team announced that Reince Priebus, the head of the Republican National Committee, the Republican’s Party’s principal fund-raising and organizational arm, will serve as Trump’s White House chief of staff.

*I wrote this piece when Trump first started getting his cabinet together and updated it several timess. I quit updating it because his choices kept changing so if some of his picks don't match my post . . . that's why.